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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Google Accessible

Google provides a wide variety of services that are mostly accessed with a Web browser. Our users visit Google from a large number of browsers and platforms; in addition, we also understand that every user is special and may have special needs. Accessibility at Google is about making sure that our services work well for all our users, independent of the user's needs and abilities at any given time.Accessible Search is an early Google Labs product designed to identify and prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and visually impaired users. Regular Google search helps you find a set of documents that is most relevant to your tasks. Accessible Search goes one step further by helping you find the most accessible pages in that result set.

Google's primary service --- Web Search --- has a very simple user interface and has always been highly accessible from a variety of user environments. Newer services that present highly interactive user interfaces continue to present accessibility challenges when used with specialized adaptive technologies such as screenreaders. We are committed to finding accessibility solutions that make our services work better for all of our users.

Here is a list of accessibility related services from Google, including solutions to some accessibility challenges.

Web Search: Result pages include headers to delineate logical sections.

Accessible Search: promotes results that are accessible.

Book Search: Provides full-text access to public-domain works.

GMail: Provides a simple, yet functional HTML mode that works well with screenreaders.

GMail Mobile: Provides a light-weight user interface that is also speech-friendly.

Google Maps: Provides easy-to-use textual directions.

Calendar: Provides a functional, yet speech-friendly user interface.

Audio Captchas: All services that use Google Accounts provide an audio alternative
for the visual challenge-response tests that are used to distinguish humans from machines.

Mobile Transcoder: Provides a mobile lens for viewing the Web that produces accessible views.

Google Video
: allows uploaded videos to contain captions/subtitles in multiple languages for viewers who are hearing-impaired or unfamiliar with the original language.

Google Talk: IM clients inside a Web browser can pose accessibility challenges, but the use of the open Jabber API means that Google users can choose from a variety of Jabber clients, many of which work well with adaptive technologies.

Web APIs: In addition, many Google services offer high-level Web APIs that aid in authoring mashups; this provides a means for creating highly customized accessible views.

Finally, many Google services such as Google Scholar, Google News, Blogger and Google Product Search work out of the box. While today's screenreaders can hit some bumps on the road when using more advanced features in these products, these web interfaces degrade gracefully to provide a functional interface.

We invite you to participate in our user community. Please tell us what works well, share your own tips on using Google services, and make sure to tell us what could be made even better!

Author: T.V Raman

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